The world’s demand for milk products has increased tremendously over the last few decades and is expected to continuously rise within the years to follow. This places great pressure on the agricultural community to increase production in order to meet this demand. As such, farmers are seeking for means of increasing milk production. A great deal of research has therefore been centred on finding out whether cows can produce milk without having a baby. Findings indicate that although naturally cows cannot produce milk without having a baby, this can be made possible through artificial means. Non lactating dairy cows can be artificially induced to produce hormones responsible for milk production without necessarily becoming pregnant.

Natural Means of Milk Production

Naturally, cows cannot produce milk without having a baby. Similar to humans, the hormones that allow for the production of milk are prevalent during pregnancy. This simply means that cows can only produce milk when having a baby. Typically, during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, cows produce hormones known as progesterone and oestrogen. These are responsible for stimulating growth and development of the milk duct system within the udder. During the same period, an important hormone termed oxytocin is also produced allowing for the secretion of milk. The cow’s volume of the milk produced generally depends on a number of factors that include breed, genetics, age as well as her level of nutrition. In order for cows to continuously produce milk, they must be milked on a daily basis. Since the hormones responsible for milk production are only produced during pregnancy, cows cannot produce milk without having a baby. An important point to be aware of is that cows are mammals which basically means that they produce milk for their little ones. As such, as long as calves are still breast feeding, cows will continue to produce milk.

Artificial Means of Milk Production

Cows cannot produce milk without having a baby however, this can however be made possible through artificial means. Commercial producers have difficulties achieving the desirable milk yields, especially with the increasing demand for milk products. As such, they make use of artificial methods to ensure that non-lactating dairy cows produce milk as well. Experts state that although cows cannot produce milk without having a baby, they can be given hormone injections in order to replicate what would occur in a normal pregnancy. The cow is provided with fortnightly treatment as a means of maintaining hormone levels during lactation. It has been proven that non lactating cows produce the same amount of milk composition as cows with normal calving. Also, they have the same lactation length. Some farmers prefer this method of milk production as it is said to increase the lifespan of dairy cows thereby allowing for greater produce and profits. Note that this is not a common practise and there is still debate on whether it is ethical to provide cows with artificial hormone treatment. As of date and in the greatest parts of the world, cows cannot produce milk without having a baby. This is because of the controversy surrounding hormonal treatment as well as the research studies being currently conducted to determine the positives and the negatives of this agricultural practise.

How Long Do Cows Produce Milk?

Naturally cows cannot produce milk without having a baby. For this reason, they are constantly pregnant to allow for the production of increased milk yields. As a matter of fact, cows are given short periods of rests so that they produce approximately 12 500 litres or milk per year. In a day, a cow can produce anywhere between 25 and 40 litres of milk. This is done for approximately 305 days yearly. Studies indicate that dairy cows can be efficiently managed to produce milk for as long as the producer needs it to, ranging from 6 to 10 months. Dairy cows are typically milked twice daily or more with each process taking about 5 to 8 minutes, provided that milking machines are used. The demand for milk products has increased to such an extent that cows produce up to 7 times the amount of milk they used to yield decades ago. In order to achieve the desired milk yield, cows are put under heavy production for roughly 3 to 4 years. When production ceases, they are sold off as beef.  Cows cannot produce milk without having a baby, which is the reason they are placed under heavy production in commercial farming systems. Resultantly, their productive years have declined drastically from 6 to 4 years at most.

How Do Cows Produce Milk All The Time?

Since it has been established that cows cannot produce milk without having a baby, it is normal for consumers to wonder how they can produce milk all the time. Studies reveal that cows generally produce at least 10 000litres to 12 500 litres of milk yearly. In order to achieve this, it means that they are pregnant every year to allow for lactation. Under commercial farming systems, cows are mated at about 2 to 3 years of age depending on whether livestock have reached the ideal weight for pregnancy. Soon after pregnancy, cows undergo a lactation period for approximately 10 months. They are then dried off for 2 to 3 month and the process continues until it is time for culling. With the rise of factory farming, milk product is now an unnatural process which requires use of artificial hormones. Bulls can be difficult and so to ensure milk production, artificial insemination is often used. Additionally, antibiotics are also administered to prevent the occurrence of infection and diseases that can potentially lower production levels. The artificial method of hormonal milk production works more or less like the natural method. Hormonal injections are given to cows allowing them to produce milk for approximately the same timeframe. Dairy cows cannot produce milk without having a baby and so spend most of their lives either pregnant or given artificial hormones in order to produce milk. Consequentially, they tend to live for shorter periods of time instead of the expected 20 years. This is because constant pregnancy and milk production gradually causes negative effects on the animal’s well-being.